As climate change brings massive fluctuation in temperature and unpredictable weather patterns around the world, Florida is no exception. In recent years, Florida temperatures have hit record lows. Now more than ever, Florida homeowners need to consider winterization strategies. Winterizing your home can be as simple as draining your sprinkler system or testing out your heating system before you need it. Trying to get someone to service your system after the temperatures drop will not only cost more but might be harder to schedule. If you’re worried about preparing your home for dropping temperatures, there are some easy steps you can take. Here are five tips that will ensure you’re ready when winter arrives.
1. Prepare Your Fireplace
You might spend 10 months out of the year forgetting your fireplace and chimney even exist. However, that’s where you’ll end up having the most serious cold air leaks and even water damage in the winter. Make sure no critters have made their home in your chimney over the winter. Take some time to carefully clear out any nests and scare off any squirrels or rodents. Ensure that your flue opens and closes and that it can be locked. While you’re checking the flue, look for the chimney draft. It should draw fire and smoke through the chimney and get the flue moving. To test this, first, lock the flue in the open position. Then gather some spare newspapers and roll them up. Light them on fire and watch the smoke. If it doesn’t rise up on its own, you’re dealing with an obstruction and need to call in a professional to clear it out. Your chimney should be cleaned every few years, so if it’s been awhile, it might be time to call someone. This is not a DIY project.
2. Avoid Frozen Pipes
When water fills your pipes during the winter, it can freeze. If you remember what you learned in science class, water expands when it freezes, putting undue pressure on pipes. Winterization of your pipes can save you from headaches. Burst pipes can cause water damage to your belongings and lead to rot in your house when warmer weather starts attracting mildew. If you’ve got water pipes in a crawlspace or in the attic, make sure you’ve got foam insulation around them. Be sure your attic and basement are tidy and clean so that if there are any bursts, nothing important is damaged. Any exterior faucets or hose lines need to be totally drained before cold weather hits. Disconnect hoses and hang them before the end of summer so that they can be used in the future. At the end of the season, if you’ve got an outdoor supply of water, drain the system completely. If a leak occurs while you’re away or when you least expect it, you could end up with pricey damage that could be hard to recover from.
One of the basics of winterization is the insulation of the interior of your house. Obviously, once the home is built, it’s hard to add insulation retroactively. But there are several steps you can take to prepare for winter. If your water tank is in an area that gets cold or isn’t well insulated, you can still insulate it. Most hardware stores sell insulating blankets that can be wrapped around your hot water tank. If this is new to you, employees can probably help you out. If you’ve got exterior outlets and switches, add foam sealing gaskets. The last thing you want is short or the inability to switch something off in an emergency. Some families have fireplaces but don’t use them. If you don’t plan to use yours, you can block it off with a fiberglass piece of insulation. This will keep cold air from filling your home without having to cover it entirely. Covering your fireplace can help protect from one of the biggest heat leaks in your home. When you want to make a fire, don’t forget to remove this blockage.
4. Doors and Windows
Your doors and windows will be some of the leakiest areas of your house, contributing to how high your heating bill goes. Even with good insulation, windows and doors will still draw heat out. Weatherstripping is one of the simplest solutions to drafty doors and windows. But there are some other methods for winterization too. Assess the situation with your windows and doors by using a stick of incense. If the trail of smoke starts moving in any direction other than straight up, you’re dealing with a leak. Leaks are likely to be found close to hinges, so you can double up on your weatherstripping here. If you don’t mind the look, you can add plastic over your windows. The only downside is you’ll be blocking out sunshine. Another alternative is rope caulk. Press it into all the joints where you feel leaks. Doors are a little trickier. Rather than sealing off your home for the winter, add door gaskets and rubber stripping to block off any major leaks.
5. Fix Your Roof
As heat rises, having a major hole or problem in your roof will cause heat from indoors to leak out. Also, as water collects on your roof from cold rain or snow, it could freeze. This ice could cause cracks in your roof. Be sure that you’ve replaced any missing or damaged shingles before winter begins. Make sure the flashing around your roof is in good order. If not, schedule a repair. Clean out your gutters. Frozen leaves will become compacted and freeze. The added weight could bring them down in the winter and cause your home some unnecessary damage during inconvenient weather.
Winterization Can Save You Money
Beyond making your home more secure and warm, winterization will save you money. Not only will your heat bill be lower, but the number of repairs you have to do in the summer will be fewer. If you’re ready to start winterizing your home today, contact us to get started.